Monday, May 26, 2008

Outcome of Burma cyclone donor's conference

I expressed severe skepticism -- outright cynicism really -- about Sunday's donors' conference in Rangoon; it appears that my previous incredulity that the exercise would help victims is not without support:

About 500 delegates from donor nations attended the conference, headed jointly by the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

A point of contention between Myanmar and potential donors is the nature of the emergency. The government asserts that the emergency phase of recovery is over, and it is asking for economic assistance to rebuild shattered towns, rehabilitate contaminated rice fields and replace livestock swept away by the storm.

That was a quote from this NY Times article. Another article questions where the money will go:

The government, which insists that the emergency phase of the disaster is over, showed a video suggesting the country had enough rice, and that what it needed instead was billions of dollars for long-term reconstruction. Some analysts fear that the focus on rebuilding is a ploy.

“I believe they just want to use it for their ordinary activity, put it into their accounts and use it to buy weapons or houses or whatever they would like to do,” Josef Silverstein, an expert on Myanmar with Rutgers University, said in a recent interview.

I think writing large checks to the government of Myanmar would be madness.* On the other hand, putting money directly in the hands of local relief agencies ought to do a world of good, Paul Strachen, a blogger and relief provider on the ground in Burma explained (see previous post).
* (Update) Not sheer madness. I realize a case can be for "paying off" Myanmar government officials to approve the receipt and transport of aid to the Irrawaddy Delta. If this is what it takes, then it's essential to work out ways to keep Myanmar accountable for its promises.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Because all comments on this blog are moderated, there will be some delay before your comment is approved.